Hello, Quarter-Life Crisis
Okay, it’s official. I’m in the throes of a quarter-life crisis. I feel completely lost as to what I want to do with my life. I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. Hell, I can’t decide if I’m grown up already.
My lease with my apartment complex runs out in July, and they are sending e-mails and leaving flyers on my door offering all sorts of incentives for me to renew my lease early. I feel incapable of making a decision. Every time I think about renewing my lease, my chest tightens and I feel like I can’t breathe. My car is starting to slowly fall apart – nothing big (knock on some serious wood), but little annoying things like the trim falling off, needing to replace three of my rims, and I’ve had an inordinate amount of flat tires in the past six months (but to be fair, that can be mostly blamed on my poor driving abilities and the fact that I can’t avoid a pot hole to save my life).
I’m at a point, financially, where I can do one of two things: buy a new car, or buy a condo. I feel silly renting when I could buy, but I’m scared to buy when I have no idea where I want to live. I have no real desire for a new car, not being much of a car person anyway, so that doesn’t sound all that exciting to me either.
It’s been almost a year since I moved out of my ex’s house, and I feel like nothing has changed. I’d hoped by now to be some sort of amazingly changed person, with a whole new lease on life. I wanted to be able to say at this point that I am completely healed, whole again and ready to take on the world. I wanted to be in love, skinny (who doesn’t want to be skinny?), moved on and successful. But frankly, I’m stuck. I’m still sad. Not all the time, but enough. I still miss him. There are many times that I still feel like a stranger, an alien, in my own life. I still sometimes look around my apartment and wonder when this dream will end, and when I will wake up back in Hopewell, next to my ex fiancé and living the life we’d created together.
I remember when I rented my apartment, it was supposed to be temporary. I simply needed a place to stay so I could get out of the holding pattern of living with the man who I loved and would no longer be marrying. Our time for playing house was over. My apartment, as nice as it is and as much as I love it, wasn’t supposed to be a permanent thing. It was just for a year, just until I could figure out what the next step was for me.
A year later, I don’t know what the next step is. I feel this unquenched thirst for adventure – to do something, and do something big. In the past two weeks, I have harbored pipe dreams of moving to Washington, D.C., New York City, somewhere else. Anywhere else. I’ve imagined the conversations I’d have to persuade my company to allow me to work in one of our other offices and start over in a new city. After my Astro John reading, I Googled opportunities with the Peace Corps and Habitat for Humanity. Then, I started working on my bucket list. I want to go sky diving. I want to go speed dating. I want to pack up everything and move to the Caribbean (but then I read this article and wasn’t quite sure I could handle real life on a Caribbean island). I want to get married and have two and a half children. I want to get a dog, although I’m terribly allergic, just so I will have someone to love me and wait for me when I get home. I want to pack up everything, make Simply Solo a travel blog and drive across country. I want to be a different person entirely. I don’t want to recognize myself in the mirror.
I’ve never seen a mid-life crisis in real life; I’ve only seen the stereotypical storyline in the movies. A middle-aged man goes out and gets a 20-something girlfriend, a red convertible, hair plugs, whatever. Is that person really aware of how ridiculous they seem? Maybe not. My feelings and confusions feel totally justified. And every pipe dream I’ve had seems totally doable – for about two days. And then I latch onto another. One day I want to move to D.C. The next, I’m buying a condo in Richmond. The next, I’m staying in my apartment and buying a car. The next, I’m buying nothing, and saving my money up so that I can (in a gazillion years) quit my job and pursue writing. Then, Chef and I are moving to New York City together. Never mind I don’t actually want to live with him here, but somehow it’s a great idea for us to move together.
I called my dad last night to ask him what he thought about the condo situation, and whether he thought it was a good idea for me to buy. I should tell you that my dad isn’t the easiest guy to talk to. He was in the military for more than 20 years, and he can be tough. I think that God purposely gave him three daughters and no sons to soften him a little, to challenge him to be more sensitive. As I was talking with him, I suddenly began to cry. I said, “I don’t know, Dad. I’m just feeling really lost. I don’t know what to do.” I expected him to tell me to toughen up, stop my whining and get my butt in gear. This would be the traditional response from my father. Or, if I were a kid, he’s probably pull the, “Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.” But, what he said shocked me.
“We’re all lost, Catherine. Don’t you think I’m lost? I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.” I’ve never heard my father admit something like that. I don’t know if it has anything to do with his recent prostate cancer diagnosis (which, hopefully, is gone now), but it was startling to me to hear such raw honesty.
I am lucky. I have no one in my life to answer to but myself. I can really do whatever I want to do. I have no children, no husband, no house, no dog, no … anything. I have a job that I enjoy, a family that I love, an outlet for my writing and supportive friends. But my lack of responsibility is overwhelming. My freedom to do whatever I want feels restricting. My life feels like it hasn’t even begun, and I can do whatever I want to do with it. There may be no other time that I have this opportunity.
And it’s terrifying.